The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) is one of only six UK trade associations taking part in a pilot scheme designed to show members what they receive for their subscriptions.

The federation is involved in the Trade Association Forum’s Value Added Measurement project which aims to produce a methodology manual that associations can use for guidance in demonstrating the value they add through services offered to their memberships.

BWF director Richard Lambert said he was conscious of his members’ need to feel they received value for money, especially as they were almost entirely small and medium-sized enterprises.

He said demonstrating value for money objectively was difficult but the new project, partly funded by the DTI, would give the BWF a way of showing added value in a form which left “no room for argument”.

Mr Lambert said it was also important to put a value on less tangible parts of trade association membership, such as being able to influence regulatory decisions or networking opportunities.

He said: “In the end, what we’re searching for is a means to convince a member company, whatever their size, that membership of the BWF brings more to them than it costs.”

The methodology manual, designed eventually for use by trade organisations across the country, will encourage a businesslike attitude towards running associations. It will show what an organisation can do, what it actually does and cost analyses of what it takes to achieve specific benefits.

Organisations can use it to show comparisons of alternatives, such as the cost of outsourcing services or the costs to members if they bypass their association and take on activities themselves.